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15 Killer Facts About Predator

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Before you “get to da choppa,” how about you take a look at a few fun tidbits we found about Predator, the Arnold Schwarzenegger action classic that was released in theaters 30 years ago today.

1. THE MOVIE WAS ALMOST TITLED HUNTER.

The name wasn't switched to Predator until after production.

2. THE PITCH FOR THE MOVIE NAME-DROPPED SOME RECOGNIZABLE HITS.

In the film's DVD commentary, director John McTiernan shared that the film was pitched as “Rocky meets Alien," but McTiernan saw it more like King Kong: "Bunch of guys go to an island, and go deeper and deeper in, and shazam the thing they’re chasing turns out to be a lot bigger than they thought, and they have to turn around and run away!”

3. THE FILM WAS SHOT ENTIRELY ON LOCATION IN MEXICO.

The fictional jungles of Val Verde are actually locations in Puerto Vallarta and Palenque, Mexico. However, because the Mexican jungle is deciduous, tons of fake leaves had to be added to the trees in order to make the jungle seem lush and inescapable.

4. SHANE BLACK WAS CAST FOR HIS SCRIPT EXPERTISE, NOT HIS ACTING CHOPS.

20th Century Fox

Shane Black, who plays Hawkins, had previously written the screenplay for Lethal Weapon; he was covertly cast in the film so that he would be available to make on-the-fly and uncredited script changes while on set. Which makes it even more befitting that Black is writing and directing a new version of Predator, which is set to be released in 2018.

5. THE LOOK OF THE COMMANDOS WAS BASED ON THE SGT. ROCK COMICS.

Hawkins can be seen reading a Sgt. Rock comic in the end credits (see above).

6. PREDATOR IS PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER JESSE VENTURA’S FIRST MOVIE.

Jesse Ventura would later serve as the Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003.

7. “OLD PAINLESS” SHOT BLANKS…

… but was still extremely deadly. The GE M134 Minigun wielded by Ventura’s character didn’t shoot live rounds, but for safety reasons, the cast and crew were required to stand at least 50 feet away when it was fired.

8. THE PREDATOR’S HEAT VISION ISN’T ACTUALLY HEAT VISION.

The filmmakers attempted to use actual heat vision for the Predator, but the specific camera proved impractical for the on-location shoot. Instead, normal footage was made into a negative image in post-production and exaggerated “heat vision” colors were added to create the effect.

9. THE PREDATOR’S GLOWING GREEN BLOOD WAS MADE FROM GLOW STICKS.

The filmmakers originally used an orange substance for the creature’s blood, figuring they would spiff it up with special effects in post-production. But the orange goop looked so bad on camera, they decided they had to make a change. They wound up using the luminescent liquid from the inside of glow sticks, which they bought over the counter.

10. JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME WAS THE ORIGINAL GUY IN THE PREDATOR SUIT.

The “Muscles from Brussels” was reportedly fired from the movie because he complained too much about how uncomfortable the suit was.

11. THE ORIGINAL DESIGN FOR THE PREDATOR WAS SCRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF PRODUCTION.

The original suit resembled a lanky, bug-eyed insect, but McTiernan didn't think it was scary enough. He halted production on the entire movie so it could be redesigned. Arnold Schwarzenegger personally tapped effects wizard Stan Winston to revamp the Predator design. Winston had previously designed Schwarzenegger’s famous robot skeleton in The Terminator.

12. THE BREAK IN PRODUCTION WAS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE.

The stop in production to redesign the Predator allowed the filmmakers to edit an hour of the movie together to show to the studio. They liked it so much that they gave the production more money to create bigger action sequences in the last third of the movie once filming picked back up
again.

13. JAMES CAMERON PARTLY INSPIRED THE CREATURE’S NEW DESIGN.

While on a flight during the production of Aliens, Cameron mentioned to Winston (who was sketching ideas for the new Predator) that he’d always wanted to see a monster with mandibles. Winston added the oral appendages to the final drawing of the updated Predator.

14. THE UPDATED PREDATOR SUIT WAS NO PICNIC TO WEAR.

The fully functioning suit weighed upwards of 200 pounds, which was a lot of weight for Kevin Peter Hall, the seven-foot-tall ballet dancer, martial arts expert, and actor they brought on to replace Van Damme.

15. OPTIMUS PRIME AND THE PREDATOR HAVE THE SAME VOICE.

Peter Cullen, who is uncredited in Predator, provided the voice for both.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

Michael Ochs Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually break away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write the “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ Could Have Been a Meat Loaf Song
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Imagine a world in which Bonnie Tyler was not the star performer on the Royal Caribbean Total Eclipse Cruise. Imagine if, instead, as the moon crossed in front of the sun in the path of totality on August 21, 2017, the performer belting out the 1983 hit for cruise ship stargazers was Meat Loaf?

It could have been. Because yes, as Atlas Obscura informs us, the song was originally written for the bestselling rocker (and actor) of Bat Out of Hell fame, not the husky-voiced Welsh singer. Meat Loaf had worked on his 1977 record Bat Out of Hell with Jim Steinman, the composer and producer who would go on to work with the likes of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand (oddly enough, he also composed Hulk Hogan’s theme song on an album released by the WWE). “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was meant for Meat Loaf’s follow-up album to Bat Out of Hell.

But Meat Loaf’s fruitful collaboration with Steinman was about to end. In the wake of his bestselling record, the artist was going through a rough patch, mentally, financially, and in terms of his singing ability. And the composer wasn’t about to stick around. As Steinman would tell CD Review magazine in 1989 (an article he has since posted on his personal website), "Basically I only stopped working with him because he lost his voice as far as I was concerned. It was his voice I was friends with really.” Harsh, Jim, harsh.

Steinman began working with Bonnie Tyler in 1982, and in 1983, she released her fifth album, Faster Than the Speed of Night, including “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It sold 6 million copies.

Tyler and Steinman both dispute that the song was written specifically for Meat Loaf. “Meat Loaf was apparently very annoyed that Jim gave that to me,” she told The Irish Times in 2014. “But Jim said he didn’t write it for Meat Loaf, that he only finished it after meeting me.”

There isn’t a whole lot of bad blood between the two singers, though. In 1989, they released a joint compilation album: Heaven and Hell.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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